how we test

Outdoor Life - - GEAR -

LASER RANGEFIND­ERS ARE re­ally just in­tri­cate time­pieces, de­signed to mea­sure the length of time an emit­ted beam of light takes to re­turn to the unit from a re­flected sur­face. Be­cause the speed of light is con­stant, the time lapse re­veals the dis­tance to the tar­get. Our test de­ter­mined each unit’s sen­si­tiv­ity and max­i­mum range ca­pa­bil­ity by las­ing three types of tar­gets: re­flec­tive (steel barn roofs from 1,200 to 2,400 yards), non-re­flec­tive (a bear hide at 100 yards), and a series of shrubs any­where from 400 to 1,200 yards. We also mea­sured each unit’s min­i­mum-dis­tance ca­pa­bil­ity. Then we judged ac­cu­racy by las­ing a series of tar­gets at known dis­tances in var­i­ous light con­di­tions. We mea­sured speed of scans by las­ing mov­ing ve­hi­cles on a high­way at 1,200 yards, and we mea­sured the clar­ity of the image and vis­i­bil­ity of the dis­play in dif­fer­ent light con­di­tions. The other half of our test as­sessed more sub­jec­tive at­tributes: the fea­tures and ameni­ties of­fered by each unit, its er­gonomics, ver­sa­til­ity at a range of tasks, and how well the unit per­formed the job for which it was in­tended. The unit with the high­est score won our Ed­i­tor’s Choice award; the best value score was named our Great Buy.

Each rangefinde­r was eval­u­ated on five ob­jec­tive cri­te­ria, which in­cluded las­ing tar­gets with a widely var­ied de­gree of re­flec­tiv­ity.

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